I remember you, my friend
A Review of Redhook ESB by Redhook Brewery
Posted on 3/7/2013 by Chops
Good beer has the power of impression. For me, this is one of the more enjoyable aspects of the craft beer movement. What I mean by this is that there are so many unique flavors on the market now and good beers can act like little memory banks. It wasn't too long ago that I called Seattle, WA home. I worked in Woodinville, WA and my office was right down the street from the Redhook Brewery. This meant that I spent a hell of a lot of time at Redhook and became intimately familiar with their onsite restaurant and tasting room (a really cool place if you have the means to visit). This was well before the days of BrewChief and I was quietly honing my taste for craft beer at the time. Fast forward to today and I find myself staring at a Redhook ESB in Durham, NC. All it took was a single sip for me to smile and think, ''I remember you, my friend''.

At this point I should pause to note that ESBs as a style (Extra Special/Strong Bitter) aren't actually supposed to be bitter. It's an unfortunate naming conundrum because they can turn away ill-informed consumers. But fret not because these beers are malty smooth easy drinkers. I highly advise anyone unfamiliar with the style to give them a try. Your new favorite style might be right under your nose and you don't even know it. Redhook's ESB is the beer that actually first taught me about the style. I have been gleefully exploring it ever since.

In the glass, this beer has the classic copper-amber color of a good ESB. It comes with a frothy white head that has good retention. On the nose, I was greeted with a candied malty aroma and a hint of spice. There was also a touch of fruitiness, but I couldn't identify anything specific. It's a solid and standard intro for the style.

The mouthfeel was just as expected: a malty smooth easy drinker. This is what hooked me way back in the day. ESBs are generally great session options and should be used as such. The flavor profile closely matched the aroma: candied malt, notes of caramel, nondescript fruity character, and a dash of spiciness. The hop profile takes the form of a mild citrus and doesn't assert itself much at all. It crisps up an otherwise dry finish and that's about the only time you notice it.

Overall, the Redhook ESB is a solid representation of the style. It won't knock your socks off, but these beers rarely do. Complexity is not something generally associated with ESBs, so it's best to go into these beers with neutral expectations. Like their amber cousins, they are meant to be malty straight shooters. That being said, I can recommend this brew to any level of beer fan, but especially to novices. Seasoned drinkers will nod in evenhanded approval and enjoy the mental break. On the flip side, novices can really benefit from this brew as a worthy benchmark and sturdy bridge into better beer. Redhook's ESB has a special place in my heart. It reminds me of a great time in my life and I'm thankful for the role it played. Cheers!
More Info:  http://redhook.com

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Redhook ESB by Redhook Brewery
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